Private Foundation School Found Segregative in Hungary
28 May 2004
In February 2004, the Hungarian Examination and Evaluation Center for Public Education (OKÉV) presented its finding that, on the basis of its investigation, the establishment of the Antal Mihály private foundation school in Jászladány is not in accordance with the law and leads to the segregation of disadvantaged students. The Antal Mihály private foundation school, which shares a building with the local municipally-run school, opened at the beginning of the 2003/2004 school year following much controversy related to the alleged intention of the school to segregate Romani children (background information on the school can be found at: Romani Parents Unsuccessful in Enrolling Their Children in Private School in Hungary. The OKÉV further stated that the establishment of the private foundation school resulted in the polarisation of the two halves of the school in such a way that children coming from standard families ended up in the private part of the school, while those coming from disadvantaged families ended up in the municipal section of the school. According to OKÉV, the decision of Jászladány municipal authorities violates the constitutional rights of citizens as well as certain legislative prohibitions.
According to a February 17, 2004 press release of the Hungarian Ministry of Education, it is typical in cases such as that of Jászladány that even though various authorities find a practice unlawful, there are no consequences for those responsible because authorities do not have the tools to enforce the elimination of such a practice. Therefore, the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), a liberal political party in Hungary, was considering proposing amending the law on compulsory and higher education, including granting courts the power to revoke per capita subsidies provided by the state so long as the unlawful situation persists.
The Hungarian Act on Equal Treatment and the Furtherance of Equality of Opportunities, adopted in December 2003, prohibits discrimination on ethnic basis in education, stating at Article 27(3) that "It is an infringement of the requirement of equal treatment especially when a person or group is: a) illicitly segregated in an educational institution, or in a division, class or group created within it; b) limited to a form of education or training, or the establishment and maintenance of an educational or training system or institution, the level of which does not reach the requirements laid down in the issued professional requirements, or does not meet professional rules, and as a result of which, does not provide the opportunity required to pursue studies, taking state examinations, or the opportunity of training and preparation expected in general." The measure strengthens existing Hungarian rules banning racial segregation in the field of education. (ERRC)